Karachi, June 24: Pakistan were desperate for a positive result after enduring a "difficult" week following a below-par performance against India in the World Cup but the win over South Africa is "not an answer to the critics", says skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Pakistan faced severe criticism from fans and former players alike after their seventh World Cup defeat to arch-rivals India on June 16 but the team bounced back to outwit South Africa by 49 runs on Sunday, reviving their semifinal hopes.
"Our win is not an answer to the critics. We are here to play cricket, and like any other side, believe we can win the World Cup," said Sarfaraz in an interview released to the Pakistani media by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
The under-fire Pakistan skipper insisted that the mantra of the team was "we lose as a team and we win as a team". "This has been the mantra of the Pakistan cricket team," he said.
"The win over South Africa was the result of a complete team effort. We badly needed a positive result following a difficult last week, when our below-par performance against India was followed by severe criticism, some justified and some unjustified."
Sarfaraz said that Pakistan had made mistakes against India and after the defeat the players sat down together and analysed their performances. "We talked through our mistakes and expressed determination not to repeat them," he said.
The Pakistan skipper also praised Haris Sohail, who blasted a 59-ball 89 to guide Pakistan to a challenging 308 for 7 against South Africa. "No praise would be enough for the innings. Haris played and he made the difference, in a tight situation and in only his second match of the tournament," he said.
"He batted like Jos Butler of England. He looked hungry and his body language was very positive right from the start of his innings," he said.
Sarfaraz also explained why the team management had not played Haris against England, Australia, and India in the World Cup. "It was because we wanted to play with a particular combination. He has a very wise head on his shoulders and that helps him to construct his innings and accelerate at the right time with clean and precise hitting," Sarfaraz said.
"It is unfortunate that his career has been marred by injuries. I hope the innings will now give his career the deserving lift, more importantly, the recognition."
Sarfaraz, however, admitted that fielding has been a worry for his side. "We dropped too many catches against South Africa, some straightforward and some half-chances," he said.
Sarfaraz said the team was aware that their next opponent, New Zealand was a dangerous side, so Pakistan have to lift their performance by leaps and bounds.